The role of women in gender equality | By Ariela Agosin

Mar 13, 2023

“A fundamental issue is to promote women’s participation and leadership in decision-making spaces”.

My grandmother’s generation won the right to vote, my mother’s generation developed academically. Today it is up to us to advance much further and strengthen our possibilities in leadership positions.

In Chile there have been very positive changes. At the legislative level, for example, reforms have been made to guarantee greater female participation in Parliament and other bodies. The same has occurred in trade associations, such as the Bar Association. On the other hand, regulations have been passed that go in the right direction, since they allow women’s life and work to develop in a positive way, helping to reduce the problems that hinder it. Thus, sexual harassment in public spaces is now punishable, the crime of femicide has been criminalized -which now includes dating relationships and partnerships-, there is a 6-month post-natal period and the Registry of Food Debtors has been created.

We are at the turning point. This generation of women has the challenge of achieving full equality, of paving the way for our daughters to walk with peace, security and equality in their personal and professional lives. That they do not suffer gender-based violence, an overload of unpaid work, and that they are fully integrated into the world of work, with equity both in salary and in opportunities for promotion to management positions.

On this path, a fundamental issue is to promote the participation and leadership of women in decision-making spaces.

In Chile, women represent only 22% of the seats in the National Congress and 38% of the positions of ministers and undersecretaries in the government. Although efforts have been made to increase our representation in politics, much remains to be done.

Although in 2021 we achieved 14% presence of women on IPSA boards (the highest participation in history), we are still far behind the most developed countries. We must strengthen our presence in first line management and boards of directors.

Approximately 50% of the labor, professional, academic, political, economic and social capacity is female, and by not incorporating them we are giving up 50% of the available talent. We are losing a unique opportunity for development.

It is an obligation of society as a whole to ensure that, in the shortest possible time, women can access these positions, breaking the dynamics of the “glass ceiling”: those invisible barriers that prevent us from ascending to the upper levels of the corporate ladder, regardless of our qualifications or achievements.

Evidence shows that female participation tends to be positively related to the performance of institutions, which are more productive to the extent that they have mixed management.

Women also promote gender diversity within organizations, known as gender spillover theory. Here is the call.

Those of us who have managed to make a space for ourselves can push for this change, indeed, I feel that we have a duty to do so, to make visible the female potential that will be a tremendous contribution to our organizations and provide the facilities for them to gain access to leadership positions, making those who accompany us in these spaces understand the importance of acting in this direction.

It is imperative then, that those who reach decision-making positions, help other women to reach those spaces. This is real sorority.

As I said, we must pave the way for the new generations to fully develop in their professional careers, being recognized for their talent to perform as leaders of organizations, and without having to give up a family, if they choose to do so.

We must transmit this, influencing decision-makers. It is the duty of all of us who have the option to do so, wherever we work.

Source: Radio Cooperativa, March 08, 2023.

Read full column here.

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